Tokyo Drifter

Tasked with making a vehicle for actor/singer Tetsuya Watari to croon the title song, Suzuki concocted this crazy yarn about a reformed yakuza on the run from his former comrades. The film is mainly an excuse to stage an escalating series of goofy musical numbers and over-the-top fight scenes. Popping with garish colors, self-parodic style, and avant-garde visual design, Tokyo Drifter embodies a late-1960s zeitgeist in which trash and art joyfully comingle. “With influences that range from Pop Art to 1950s Hollywood musicals, and from farce and absurdist comedy to surrealism, Suzuki shows off his formal acrobatics in a film that is clearly meant to mock rather than celebrate the yakuza film genre.”—Nikolaos Vryzidis, Directory of World Cinema: Japan. (Japanese with English subtitles)

Read Brent McKnight’s review of Tokyo Drifter for Popmatters (2/8/2012)

Genres: Crime, Parody, Action

Other Films by Seijun Suzuki

Carmen from Kawachi

Carmen from Kawachi

A 1960s riff on the opera Carmen (including a rock version of its famous aria “Habanero”), this picaresque tale sends its heroine from the countryside to Osaka and Tokyo in search of success as a singer. Her journey is fraught with exploitation and abuse at the hands of nefarious men—until Carmen seeks revenge. Mixing comedy,

Gate of Flesh

Gate of Flesh

Part social realist drama, part sadomasochistic trash opera, Gate of Flesh paints a dog-eat-dog portrait of postwar Tokyo. The film takes the point of view of a gang of tough prostitutes working out of a bombed-out building. When a lusty ex-soldier lurches into their midst, the group’s most sensitive member is tempted to break one

The Call of Blood

The Call of Blood

Though Suzuki created it in the midst of his stylistic breakthrough, The Call of Blood has never received the same amount of attention as other films he made around the same time. Nikkatsu icons Hideki Takahashi and Akira Kobayashi star as brothers—one a gangster, the other an ad man—who unite to avenge their yakuza father’s

Tattooed Life

Tattooed Life

Set in the 1930s, Tattooed Life is the story of two brothers: Kenji, an art student, and Tetsu, who is working as a yakuza to help pay for Kenji’s tuition. When a hit job goes horribly wrong, the brothers flee. They end up finding work in a mine—and falling in love with the owner’s wife

Yumeji

Yumeji

Made ten years after its predecessor, the final film in the Taisho Trilogy spins a fantastical tale from the life of a historical figure. Takehisa Yumeji (1884–1934) was an artist known as much for his paintings of beautiful women as for his bohemian lifestyle. As played by rock star Kenji Sawada, the Yumeji of Suzuki’s